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Queens Theft Crimes Lawyer

Shoplifting Charges in Queens, NY

An accusation of shoplifting can have devastating consequences. Under New York law, a conviction for petit larceny or shoplifting is considered a crime of dishonesty that can show up on the most basic background check.

This can have a serious impact on current and future employment options, closing the doors to many careers. If you have been arrested for shoplifting, it's important to speak with a defense attorney as soon as possible, even before giving statements to the retail management.

Queens Shoplifting Defense Attorney

Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner represents clients charged with shoplifting and petit larceny in cases throughout New York City. Many of her clients are women or minors who have never before been accused of any criminal offense.

These individuals never imagined being charged with a crime. Many of Rochelle S. Berliner's clients have successful careers as nurses, teachers and business owners. In other cases, the person accused is in high school, college or graduate school.

With more than 20 years of experience, both as a prosecutor and defense attorney, Rochelle S. Berliner fights hard to protect the futures of her clients. She provides free, confidential consultations to discuss the accusation.

Rochelle S. Berliner represents clients in Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx, and Brooklyn. Call 718-261-5600 to begin taking the important first steps towards combating your shoplifting charges.



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New York Shoplifting Laws

In New York, shoplifting is often charged as petit larceny under New York Penal Law 155.05, which states:

"A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof."

The severity of the charge and possible punishment is determined by the value of the item taken. If the item was valued at less than $1,000, then the offense can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail. The charges are more serious if the item or items taken are valued at more than $1,000.


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An Arrest for Shoplifting in New York City

In the typical case, a loss prevention employee will confront the customer suspected of taking merchandise as the customer leaves the store. The loss prevention employee is legally entitled to detain the customer, even by using reasonable force until law enforcement arrives. Often the loss prevention employee will question the customer in order to obtain a confession of as many elements of the crime as possible.

You are entitled to remain silent after such an accusation. The loss prevention employee may ask you to sign documents, and you are entitled to decline such a request. When law enforcement arrives, the officer will typically read you Miranda warnings and interrogate the person accused in order to obtain a confession.

If the law enforcement officer decides to make a formal arrest, the individual accused of petit larceny or shoplifting will be taken to the closest precinct for processing. The suspect's fingerprints and mug shot will be taken during the booking process.


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False Accusations of Shoplifting

Merchants purposely make merchandise easily accessible for customers. Especially in large department stores, the customer is encouraged to carry the merchandise with them as they shop. When the shopper becomes distracted, it is possible to accidentally walk out of a store without paying for one of the items. In fact, in many retail establishments the merchant will report that occasionally a shopper realizes the mistake and returns to the store to pay for the item. In other cases, the customer is confronted with an accusation of shoplifting as soon as they attempt to leave the store.

Years ago, merchants would generally not pursue criminal charges for petit larceny or shoplifting when it appeared plausible that a simple mistake was made. However, as career shoplifters have become more prevalent, merchants are increasingly inclined to take a "zero tolerance" policy. In fact, merchants now have loss prevention employees who are required to gather evidence and call the law enforcement even when the customer insist that the taking was inadvertent.

If you walked out of the store with an item that you did not pay for, but the taking was an accident, then you are not guilty of shoplifting. In fact, at trial, the prosecutor is required to prove that the taking was intentional. In these cases it is important to talk with a criminal defense attorney about the accusation. In many of these cases the attorney can help make sure any surveillance tape of the incident is preserved. Those surveillance tapes often go a long way towards showing how the mistake occurred.


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The Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) in Shoplifting Cases in NYC

After an arrest for shoplifting in NYC, when you arrive at the precinct, the officer has the discretion to issue you a Desk Appearance Ticket (often called the "DAT"). The DAT is usually issued when the suspect has no prior criminal record and has a local address. After the DAT is issued, the person cited is allowed to leave after promising to return to court for an arraignment at the designated time. If you fail to appear at arraignment, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.


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The Arraignment in a Shoplifting Case in NYC

Whether the individual is booking into the jail or issued a desk appearance ticket (DAT) the individual suspected of shoplifting and charged with petit larceny must appear for arraignment to enter a "guilty" or "not guilty" plea. In those cases in which a DAT is not allowed, the judge will also set a reasonable bond so that the person can bond out of jail after the arraignment.

In many cases in which the individual does not have any prior criminal record, or only a minimal criminal record, the judge may allow the person to sign a signature bond for the individual's "release on their own recognizance" (often called an "ROR" bond). It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you at the arraignment for any shoplifting or petit larceny case, whether you were formally booked or whether you were released with a desk ticket appearance.


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The Initial Court Date or Calendar Call in Shoplifting Cases

The initial court date after the arraignment is often called the "calendar call." Having an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you at the calendar call is important. Your attorney can file certain pre-trial motions such as a motion to exclude statements taken in violation of your Miranda warnings, motions to dismiss the criminal charges, or motions to suppress physical evidence taken in violation of your constitutional rights because of an unreasonable stop or seizure.

Your criminal defense attorney can also help you understand all options available to you to resolve the case including a negotiated plea bargain for an ACD – Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. In other cases, particularly for individuals in the health care profession (such as nurses or physician assistants), or educational professionals (such as public and private school teachers, and college professors), it may be in the individual's best interest to set the case for a bench or jury trial in order to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges. An outright dismissal of the charges before trial or a "not guilty" verdict at trial is particularly important in order to avoid certain adverse consequences to the individual's career or educational opportunities.


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Grand Larceny under New York Law

Although less common in shoplifting cases, if the item taken is valued at more than $1,000, then felony charges can be filed. If the item taken is value at more than $1,000, then the offense can be charged as Grand Larceny under New York's felony statutory scheme, which states:

  • If the value of the item is between $1,000 and $3000, then the offense can be charged as Class E felony. Grand Larceny in the Fourth (4th) Degree, which is punishable by up to 4 years in jail.
  • If the value of the item is between $3000 and $50,000, then the offense can be charged as a Class E felony. Grand Larceny in the Third (3rd) Degree, which is punishable by up to 7 years in jail.
  • If the value of the item is more than $50,000, then the offense can be charged as a Class E felony. Grand Larceny in the Second (2nd) Degree, which is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

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Civil Recovery in Shoplifting and Larceny Cases in New York

In addition to the potential criminal penalties, the alleged victim of the crime can also pursue a recovery for damages in civil court. In fact, under the laws of the State of New York, a civil lawsuit can be brought against you to recover five times the amount of the item that was taken.


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Related Charges for Criminal Possession of Stolen Property

When an accusation of petit larceny is made in New York City, the police may also charge the accused with a separate offense of "possession of stolen property." New York's Penal Law Section 165.00 provides that a person is guilty of the criminal possession of stolen property if he or she:

  • knowingly possesses stolen property with an intention to use that property to benefit him or herself or a person other than the true owner; or
  • to impede the recovery of the stolen property by the true owner.

If the item taken is valued at less than $1,000, then a Class A misdemeanor for criminal possession of stolen property in the Fifth (5th) degree can be charged, which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail. Felony charges can be alleged if the value of the item is $1,000 or more as provided under New York's statutory scheme which provides:

  • if the value of the item is between $1,000 and $3000, then the offense can be charged as Class E felony, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth (4th) Degree, which is punishable by up to 4 years in jail.
  • If the value of the item is between $3000 and $50,000, then the offense can be charged as a Class E felony, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third (3rd) Degree, which is punishable by up to 7 years in jail.
  • If the value of the item is more than $50,000, then the offense can be charged as a Class E felony, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second (2nd) Degree, which is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

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Shoplifting Crime Resources

Shoiplifting Statistics - Read more about national shopliting statistics from the The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention (NASP) .

Theft Crimes in Queens and NYC - Read more about the most common crimes involving an accusation of theft, including shoplifting, petit larceny, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and more.

Petit Larceny Cases in Queens and NYC - Find out more about the criminal offense of petit larceny, including consequences and punishments, the standard jury instructions in New York, affirmative defenses, statutory maximum punishments, and more.


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Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | Shoplifting Arrest Lawyer in New York City

If you have been charged with shoplifting in New York City, contact a Queens criminal defense attorney for experienced legal guidance and representation. Rochelle Berliner represents clients charged with theft crimes throughout the greater New York City area including Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan.

Call 718-261-5600 or send an online message today for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your best defense directly with criminal defense attorney, Rochelle S. Berliner. Find out what you need to do right now to protect yourself from these serious accusations.

Free Consultation

Submit your information using this form to schedule a free consultation with attorney Rochelle Berliner.

Name* Phone* Email* Subject* Message*

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